Elisra's comprehensive RF-Laser-EO protection shell for aircraft. The suite combines RWR, LWR, IR-PAWS, RF Jammer, laser DIRCM and Chaff/Flare dispensing functions


Electronic warfare (EW) consisting of electronic attack (EA), electronic protection (EP) and electronic warfare support has become an important component of modern warfare. Based on Air HQ ORs in October 2006 for an EW suite for fitment on MiG-29 upgrade aircraft, Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE), Bangalore, proposed in Oct 2007 joint development of a state-of-the-art EW suite (D-29 system) with M/s Elisra, Israel.

MoD sanctioned in March 2010 the project to DARE under Mission Mode for design and development of D-29 system at a cost of Rs. 168.85 crore with a PDC of 33 months. Accordingly, DARE signed in April 2010 a tripartite agreement with the Ministry of Defence, Israel and M/s Elisra at a cost of 26 million USD with a probable date of completion (PDC) of 28 months.

The D-29 system was developed by DARE in March 2013 but it could not be evaluated on the three MiG-29 aircraft received in India without additional modifications, which was necessary to carry out testing of the system.

As per a CAG report, there was lack of synchronisation of upgradation with structural modification (including additional modification) of MiG-29 aircraft and development of D-29 system for the aircraft. In response to an audit query (October 2014) regarding absence of EW suite (D-29) on operational capability of MiG- 29 aircraft, Air HQ stated (October 2014) that absence of EW system in upgraded MiG-29 aircraft was an operational limitation. In response to the CAG audit observation (December 2014) regarding non-synchronisation of the activities and consequent delay in proving the D-29 system on MiG-29 aircraft, DARE stated that delay in completion of up-gradation of aircraft was beyond the control of laboratory and testing of the developed D-29 system was delayed for want of aircraft.

For operational limitation, DARE stated that ‘Tarang’ 1B RWR would be used in absence of D-29 system. Reply may be seen in light of the fact that ‘Tarang’ 1B RWR was without a Special Protection Jammer (SPJ), because of which, IAF projected the requirement for D-29 system. Therefore, ‘Tarang’ IB RWR cannot be treated as a substitute for an effective EW system.

Thus, evaluation of the D-29 system on MiG-29 aircraft developed by DARE under Mission Mode has been pending since March 2013. Further, though Air HQ admitted in Oct 2014 that the absence of an EW suite was an operational limitation in MiG-29 aircraft, delay by IAF/DARE in evaluating the D-29 system only reduces its utilisation as the upgraded MiG-29 aircraft has a Total Technical Life of 20 years only.

New Deal

Meanwhile, Israeli firm Elisra has bagged Rs 178 crore deal for developing the electronic warfare suite for the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mk1A aircraft being built for the Indian Air Force. 

The Israeli firm was selected by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) after issuing a multi-vendor tender in which around six to seven companies had participated. The selection through a comprehensive process has helped in bringing down the cost of the electronic warfare suite.

“Development cost of the electronic warfare suite for the order placed by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited works out to Rs 177.43 crore which will include three prototypes and other support equipment,” a senior defence official said.

Defence Ministry official said the D-29 could not be used for the LCA Tejas as there was a need for major redesign for installing it on the indigenous plane.

HAL officials said they had initiated talks with the BEL for redesigning the D-29 for the LCA Tejas but it was not able to provide a proposal for the complete electronic warfare suite.

The Defence Ministry official said the DRDO and the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) also carried out a test to find out whether the D-29 could be used without modification on the LCA but the results found out that it was not “Feasible”.

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